Day: November 26, 2013

Buying local does more than you think

Read the full story in SmartPlanet.

While we may think we’re getting a great deal in times where belts have tightened, are we doing harm to our local environment by taking advantage of such promotions?

According to a new infographic from CustomMade, an online marketplace for custom items, the impact may be more widespread that consumers realize. If we choose to buy local, not only can this keep independent stores alive and the entrepreneurial scene thriving, but according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics (.pdf), local businesses generate over 70 percent more local economic activity than big, brand-name retail giants.

WordSpy Word of the Day: school sprawl

According to WordSpy, school sprawl is the placement of schools away from the communities they serve, especially beyond walking distance of those communities.

Visit the WordSpy web site to see examples of usage and the earliest citation.

Will Open Source Beehives Solve Colony Collapse?

Read the full story at Shareable.

As we face bee colony collapse, open source beehives can be freely downloaded, printed, and used to track colony health.

Fish 2.0: A Contest Seeks to Foster A More Sustainable Seafood Industry

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

Think of it as a live version of Shark Tank, the U.S. primetime TV favorite in which entrepreneurs pitch their fledgling companies to investors.

Twenty pioneers in the sustainable seafood business climbed a stage at Stanford University earlier this month, and by the time they finished wooing the judges, the aptly named Fish 2.0 had schooled the audience in salmon-egg cryogenics, aquaponic gardens, and a large-scale aquaculture farm in South Dakota.

A business competition at heart, Fish 2.0 sought to combine entrepreneurs and investors from both Wall Street and philanthropic circles to spur innovation in the tradition-bound seafood industry. Investors have been wary of the often-opaque seafood business, while entrepreneurs hoping to change the way the U.S. catches, distributes, and markets fish have had difficulty accessing capital.

Fish 2.0 — the brainchild of Monica Jain, the seafood-savvy executive director of California-based Manta Consulting — was designed to bridge that capital gap, breaking down obstacles between entrepreneurs and investors who shared an eagerness for change but who lacked the necessary contacts, knowledge, or skills to alter the course of the seafood industry.

Rice scientists ID new catalyst for cleanup of nitrites

Read the full story from Rice University.

Chemical engineers at Rice University have found a new catalyst that can rapidly break down nitrites, a common and harmful contaminant in drinking water that often results from overuse of agricultural fertilizers.

Nitrites and their more abundant cousins, nitrates, are inorganic compounds that are often found in both groundwater and surface water. The compounds are a health hazard, and the Environmental Protection Agency places strict limits on the amount of nitrates and nitrites in drinking water. While it’s possible to remove nitrates and nitrites from water with filters and resins, the process can be prohibitively expensive…

In a new paper in the journal Nanoscale, Wong’s team showed that engineered nanoparticles of gold and palladium were several times more efficient at breaking down nitrites than any previously studied catalysts. The particles, which were invented at Wong’s Catalysis and Nanomaterials Laboratory, consist of a solid gold core that’s partially covered with palladium.


Resilient Against What?: How Leading U.S. Municipalities Are Understanding and Acting on Resilience

Download the document.

Resilience is often understood simply as the ability to “bounce back” from a single disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. This survey commissioned by Post Carbon Institute found that leading US municipalities already have a much more sophisticated understanding of resilience involving economic, energy, and social challenges—and they’re putting it into action through policies, regulations, and programs.

Energy Department Launches Alternative Fueling Station Locator App

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to expand access to data and give consumers more transportation options that save money at the pump, the Energy Department today launched a new mobile app to help drivers find stations that provide alternative fuel for vehicles.

Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with support from the Energy Department, the Alternative Fueling Station Locator app provides information on more than 15,000 stations across the country. Users can search for stations that offer electricity, biodiesel (B20), natural gas (compressed and liquefied), ethanol (E85), hydrogen, and propane. After the user selects a fuel, the app maps the stations closest to his or her current location. The app also includes the stations’ addresses, phone numbers, and operating hours. Using the app’s filters, drivers can also search for stations that meet certain parameters, such as whether the station is open to the public and what payment methods it accepts.

Alternative fuel vehicles produce fewer greenhouse gases and harmful emissions than their conventional counterparts and reduce the United States’ dependence on imported oil. This app is just the latest tool the Energy Department has made available to help drivers find the right vehicle and fuel that suits their needs. It is a mobile version of the Alternative Fueling Station Locator website, one of 15 tools designed to reduce the use of petroleum in transportation available on the Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.

The Alternative Fueling Station Locator app is available for the iPhone and iPad at no cost from the Apple App Store.

Whole Foods, Walgreens and other retailers see the light on retrofitting

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

When visiting a retail store, customers are looking for a pleasant shopping experience. They want to look vibrant in the clothing and cosmetics sections, they want the produce to look fresh and delicious, and they want to be able to find what they are looking for. Lighting products that ensure customers will find the products they are looking for are critical to increased sales for the retailer.

Yet for many years, retail stores have relied on electric lighting, often over-lighting products and unintentionally making the products difficult to see due to the poor quality of the light, while also relying on a massive amount of energy. Luckily, there’s a relatively simple solution to this issue.

Bloomberg Wants Restaurants to Compost

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he was proposing a bill that would require restaurants that generate more than a ton of food waste a week to separate their food waste from the rest of their garbage.

Sustainability movement will fail unless it creates a compelling future vision

Read the full story in The Guardian.

We will only create prosperity within planetary boundaries if we start to really believe it is possible, writes Jo Confino.

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